Wisconsin strives to end childhood poverty in quest to boost kids’ well-being

MADISON, Wis. (WKBT) — The Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health is launching an effort to eliminate childhood poverty to improve children’s well-being.
Fact Sheet PovertyDirector Linda Hall announced the effort Tuesday, with the title of “Supporting Child Well-being through Eliminating Childhood Poverty,” which details what communities, schools, parents and policymakers can do to help the effort succeed.
Hall said the initiative, based on the conclusion that “growing up in poverty is detrimental to a child’s overall well-being, affecting virtually every area of their life,” includes a new fact sheet on the issue, with some of the points including:
• Stopping the cycle of intergenerational poverty increases children’s opportunities to attend post-secondary programs, achieve higher incomes, live in stable housing and have better quality and length of life.
• When the cost of childcare, economic safety net programs and tax burdens on low-income workers are considered, the percentage of families living in poverty has been increasing since 2015.
• Adults in households that are struggling often work as cashiers, nursing assistants, laborers and security guards. Any change in expenses may push them into poverty.
• 70% of households classified as single female with children don’t have enough income to make ends meet but earn too much to be eligible for safety net programs.
• Food insecurity and housing instability plague children in poverty, but the pandemic makes it more difficult for families to provide basic needs. Black and brown families have a harder time providing basic needs than white families.
What steps can help?
• Parents can encourage children to complete high school and avoid risk factors for poverty.
• Communities can remove barriers to child care and transportation so adults have access to more job opportunities.
• Schools can teach children how to build strong relationship skills to ensure successful school and employment outcomes.
• Policymakers can raise the minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credits.
The full fact sheet is available on the Wisconsin children’s health website.